This story, written by a client of Philbrick Photography appeared in Premier Bride Magazine.

From about the moment I shrieked ‘Yes!’ as my adoring fiancé got down on one knee, my brain has morphed from sane and reasonably put together to a romanticized mush of incessant wedding planning. Scouring through endless bridal magazines and websites, my first order of duty has been to find the perfect photographer to document our journey into husband and wife. A photographer myself, this has been no easy feat as I have picked apart and cast away every professional photographer out there. I needed someone who was equal parts inventive, professional and friendly, ready to take on and become an integral asset of this momentous event. This is when I stumbled upon Philbrick Photography, hiding somewhere in my heap of magazines. The full-page ad of a bride and groom nestled into a cliff, surrounded by fog and rock, was alluring enough to make me rip out the page and study the image. I loved its composition, idea, color, everything. It was more than a traditional wedding image of some couple; this was a work of art of this couple, and exactly what I was looking for.

After browsing the photographer’s site and confirming this was our guy, we were completely overwhelmed and thrilled at the amount of options that lay before us. Engagement sessions, day after sessions, of course the wedding day… I wanted everything. Perhaps the most enticing session, and I’m sure my fiancé would be quick to agree, was the boudoir session. French for ‘bedroom’, or more specifically ‘a lady’s private bedroom/sitting room’, boudoir photography showcases the female (or male) form in its most sensual state. Because sensuality and sexuality are merely ideas, there are literally no limitations to how one could go about this sort of photography. A must have for our wedding collection, and convenient that my fiancé’s birthday was approaching, I decided to surprise him with a collection of intimate photos of his bride-to-be.

Grabbing my best friend, we hit the most logical place to prepare for the shoot: Victoria’s Secret. Lacy, satiny, frilly, shear, whatever it was I was looking for, I would find everything necessary amongst the tables and racks and drawers of this lingerie paradise. The giant black and white portraits of the impossibly gorgeous models peaked out from every corner of the store, actually inspiring different ideas I wanted for my own glamour shoot.  I don’t think anyone quite does romantic and sexy like Victoria’s Secret, so I began to lock away their photos in my mind as I threw armfuls of underwear into my bag. After some trial and error in the dressing room, I walked out of the mall, two pink striped bags in hand, beaming from my indulgent shopping spree. Keeping this all a secret from my fiancé was torturous- my initial instinct when I arrived home was to prance around in my new collection of bras and underwear, revealing his birthday surprise and getting some immediate satisfaction out of him. Knowing his shock would be worth it in the end, my pink bags resided in obscurity, hidden in the trunk of my car.

As my day grew closer, the photographer and I were constantly emailing back and forth with different ideas we had for the images. I sent him picture after picture of different poses I wanted to try and lighting I wanted to work with, until together we built up the visual vocabulary we would use to acquire the look I wanted. As I stated before, being sexual is completely interpretive, which is why this type of photography is so appealing to me. Nothing is more personal or intimate than what you and your partner deem sexual, so to completely tailor this photo shoot to my liking was very exciting. It was also very important for me to get to know the photographer as much as possible beforehand, simply so I wasn’t showing up at some stranger’s house and whipping my clothing off.

The day of the shoot, I loaded my car up with makeup, hair products, high heels and lingerie, and off I went to sit (or rather lay) in front of a camera all day. Dragging along my best friend for support, we headed out at 6 a.m. for the three-hour ride to New Hampshire. There was no time limit for our day together, so I wanted to make sure I took advantage of every waking hour possible.

When I arrived at the photographer’s house, I was guided upstairs to my own personal dressing room and bathroom. The dressing room was a museum of various props and costumes to cater to virtually any taste out there- masks, corsets and fur coats to name just a few. I slipped into my first outfit, fumbled with the garter and knee-highs for about ten minutes (who really wears those things?), and ascended downstairs to a well-lit living room to begin my day. Nervous for approximately thirty seconds, I was immediately put at ease with the professionalism my photographer maintained and the knowledge about photography he exuded. Having my best friend continually by my side helped immensely, as she was able to help with any wardrobe or hair issues, kept me laughing, and most importantly kept me well fed with grapes all day. Ah, the life of a model.

Throughout the day, the photographer and I collaborated on ideas we had and brought our earlier conversations to life. I never felt posed or awkward; the day was more about him documenting me than it was going through a series of static motions. With each wardrobe change, I was simply instructed to sprawl out on the couch, or stand against a wall, and the photographer would kind of let me do my own thing from there. This worked well for us both, and looking over the images now, I am pleased with how effortless everything looks. My favorites are the ones where he caught me giggling about something off camera; again this is where the best friend came in handy. For anyone out there researching wedding photographers, I really think there is no better way to get to know your photographer than to do a boudoir session. You will learn their personal style, whether it is traditional, photojournalistic or a mix, and I personally think this is more effective than flipping through images set to cheesy music on your computer screen. Can you really go wrong? New underwear, working relationship with the wedding photographer, and best of all an incredibly unique, romantic gift for your significant other. The photos really turned out beautifully; my photographer was flawless in his lighting, composition and post-process of his work. I am very eagerly counting down the days until I can present this to my fiancé… just a bit worried about how I will top this gift in birthdays to come.

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